The Cold War

exam question part A

covers: post stalin thaw, nuclear weapons, sino-soviet split and detente

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Cold War Exam
Part A -
The impact of the post-Stalin thaw on superpower relations
Death of Stalin:
Stalin died in March 1953 and his death was met with great relief from the west as
his death was seen as a dominant factor in the development of the Cold War.
With Stalin gone, the dynamics of the Cold War relations were likely to change.
Liberal Historians of the Cold War (who emphasise the role of personalities) argue
that Stalin's death is a deeming factor in the development of the `Thaw'.
However, it is unlikely that he is the only influence on the direction of Soviet foreign
policy in the early 1950's. This is supported by W.McCagg's `Stalin embattled' "who
argues that he was only one player in the complex political game who's power has
been undermined by the growth in power of groups both inside and outside the
party". This is also supported by Stalin's daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva in `Twenty
letters to a friend' saying that "he was helpless either to destroy it or bring it under
Whether or not it was Stalin who controlled soviet policy in his final years, the
initiative was running away from the Soviet Union in 1948-49. This is presented in the
failure of the Soviet blockade of Berlin, the formation of NATO and the defection of
Yugoslavia from Cominform. These were all failures for Stalin's foreign policy. Thus, his
death in 1953 provided an opportunity for the new Soviet leadership to change its
approach to the West.
Coinciding with this, there was a change at the head of US government as Dwight
Eisenhower has become the American president in 1953. Many American's voted for
him due to his military background which they felt would make him come down hard
on communism. However, IKE was aware that extensive military spending could
jeopardise economic prosperity.
IKE's `New Look' approach policy, therefore, reflected a change towards greater gain
for the US, allowing military spending to be reduced.
However, rather than solely personalities and new leadership changing the Cold War
conflict, the boundaries of each superpowers sphere of influence had been
established and accepted, therefore proving the circumstances of 1953 to demand

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But, this switch in policy was
promoted by the change in leadership on both sides.
The Death of Stalin also brought about another period of rivalry.…read more

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Pact of 1955 symbolised the willingness of the USSR to protect the Eastern Bloc
from the perceived evils of American imperialism.
With their positions in Europe more secure, the superpowers were more willing to
attempt negotiation.
Military and economic context:
o The development of nuclear capability by both sides had made the Cold War
potentially very dangerous
o By 1955 both sides were in possession of the hydrogen bomb, the H bombs
capability was far greater than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.…read more

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These developments in East Germany delivered a blow to Beria's foreign policy and
seriously undermined his attempt to gain the leadership of USSR.
Beria's motives for his German initiative may hhave been to distance himself from
Stalin's policies or to impress his colleagues in the Politburo, but both of these failed.
Beria's association with the less pleasant aspects of Stalin's policies was too much
for the Politburo and he was arrested then (due to being accused of being a british
agent) was executed.…read more

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The continuity between Malenkov's foreign policy and that of Khrushchev is
highlighted by the fact that the name associated with Khrushchev's `peaceful
coexistence', had been already used by Malenkov to describe his own approach.
The immediate impact of Khrushchev's policy of Peaceful
Khrushchev's new leadership led to several new developments that gave hope to the
West that accommodation and agreement could be reached between superpowers.…read more

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However, in 1955 Khrushchev was ready to withdraw soviet presence in Porkkala as
he saw no reason to retain their influence in a non-communist country and
considered it to be of little strategic use and more of a burden than an asset.
Molotov had tried to overrule this decision to withdraw, but had been defeated.
In 1956 Porkkala was returned to Finland.…read more

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As a military man IKE was aware of the destructive force of nuclear weapons. Like the
new soviet leadership, he was keen to avoid the prospect of nuclear annihilation.
IKE was very cautious of the growth of power and influence of the military-industrial
complex within the USA. He was also aware the economic resources that could be
used to improve living standards were being diverted into arms production.…read more

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Over $20 billion was given to Latin America to promote land reforms
for the poor.
Covert methods had been used by IKE but were enlarges in scope and ambition
under Kennedy. CIA involvement in attempt to remove Castro, the communist leader
of Cuba, gathered pace leading to the fiasco of the Bay of Pigs affair in 1961.
Expansion of conventional forces was inevitable under `Flexible response' and the
cuts in expenditure introduced by IKE were reversed by Kennedy. The army grew
from 2.…read more

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The only thing to come out of the Geneva Spirit was cultural exchanges of scientists,
musicians and artists.
Positive: K accepted the US invitation to visit the USA in 1959 and it was generally a
success. However, Negatively: K was denied access to Disneyland on Health and
Safety grounds and accused the US of hiding rocket launch pads there.
Negative: during the summit meeting between IKE and K at paris 1960 which
collapsed when American U-2 spy plane was shot down over soviet airspace.…read more

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The events in Hungary of 1956 showed the vulnerability of the Soviet sphere of
influence that had been built up after WW2.
K encouraged calls for liberalisation within Hungary through De- Stalinisation and it
showed the impact that changes within the Soviet Union could have on its satellite
De- Stalinisation encouraged reform by criticising Stalin's system of terror and by K
suggesting that there was more than one road to socialism.…read more


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